Electrical failures can halt commercial and industrial business operations. The time spent diagnosing and correcting the problem, or time spent waiting for new parts, is production time and money lost. (John J. Pempek, Inc. photo)

Keeping Up to Date with Electrical Services

What many businesses may not understand is that electrical safety training is required for all personnel, not just those performing electrical work.

Keeping up with maintenance requirements is critical for any industrial or commercial business. Electrical maintenance is one of the requirements that are essential for performance and safety. Businesses must also stay up-to-date with changes in electrical requirements.

Equipment Performance and Safety
Preventative maintenance is just that, service steps required to prevent failures. You can tell when you have a plumbing leak, but electricity cannot be seen. Often the only way to notice a problem is when a failure occurs. Repairs after the fact are more costly than simple prevention steps.

Repairing a wiring problem that is causing a motor to overheat is less expensive than replacing the motor and wiring, and the lost production time. Something as simple as a loose connection may create intermittent equipment failure. A technician could spend hours trying to find a mechanical fault when the true problem is not in the equipment, but the power to the equipment.

Electrical failures can halt commercial and industrial business operations. The time spent diagnosing and correcting the problem, or time spent waiting for new parts, is production time and money lost. Failures from overheating or short circuits can also lead to fire, which could completely shut your facility down. Full electrical service maintenance covers everything from the switchgear to outlets and control panels.

Employee Safety
In addition to production issues, employers are responsible for the safety of the company's workers. Frayed wires or breaks in insulation are accidents waiting for an opportunity. The same wires that have loosened over time may cause electrocution or other injuries. A worker may see equipment that is not operating and assume that it is shut off. Machinery that starts again suddenly can entrap the employee.

Improper grounding or broken ground bonds are another hazard. The lack of a strong ground bond can cause problems ranging from intermittent equipment failures to the electrocution of a worker in a wet environment. Ground fault protection testing should be performed periodically. Without routine electrical service, you may not know the potential hazards exist.

Requirements and Changes in Requirements
Electrical service work is not a job for the unskilled. When it comes to commercial and industrial operations, the risks are greater due to higher voltage levels. In order to avoid violations, employers must comply with safety standards. In the U.S., this means compliance with Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requirements. The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) covers the United Kingdom. What many businesses may not understand is that electrical safety training is required for all personnel, not just those performing electrical work.

In addition to meeting established safety requirements, businesses must meet any local or national code regulations and keep up to date with changes in the regulations. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) released new rules in 2015. NFPA 70E-2015 requires all employers to assess the risk of arc flashes. Unfortunately, not knowing about regulations and changes does not excuse a business from being cited for violations.

Your business or property insurance must also be considered in the need for electrical maintenance. If property damage or injuries occur due to a lack of adequate service, you may not be covered. Normally any work must also be performed by a qualified electrician to avoid being held liable for accidents.

Finally, as a business operation grows, the electrical needs may increase. The number of outlets and circuits that were sufficient at the beginning may no longer support the equipment now in use. Without routine electrical maintenance, performed by skilled personnel, you may not be aware of the potential for overloads. Keeping up with electrical service requirements will help ensure your continued business operation.

For more than 60 years, John J. Pempek, Inc. has been a leading Chicago electrical contractor, specializing in industrial electrical power, maintenance services, control services, and more. Andrew Pempek is vice president of John J. Pempek, Inc.

This article originally appeared in the October 2015 issue of Occupational Health & Safety.

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